R&D plays a significant role in increasing our competitiveness
High-quality inorganic colour pigments from LANXESS are used by customers worldwide in a range of applications in decorative concrete. Pradeep Kumar, Head of Business Unit - Inorganic Pigments, provides an overview of his company´s niche business.
Briefly introduce LANXESS as a company to our readers with details on its origin and the present status. How does it get all the new technologies from the parent company?
LANXESS is a leading specialty chemicals company with sales of EUR 7.9 billion in 2015 and about 16,600 employees in 29 countries. The company is currently represented at 52 production sites worldwide.
LANXESS is a global player with strong roots reaching as far back as 1863, the year Bayer was founded. Combining a long tradition with the dynamism of a young organisation, LANXESS grew from a strategic realignment of the Bayer Group´s chemical and plastics businesses at the beginning of 2005.
Research & development plays a significant role in increasing our competitiveness and expanding our business through the development of innovative processes and products, as well as the ongoing optimisation of existing production processes. As one of LANXESS´ business units, Inorganic Pigments is the world´s largest producer of iron oxide pigments and has production sites on five continents that meet the highest technical and ecological standards. All Bayferrox®, Bayoxide® and Colortherm® pigments offer outstanding quality in all chemical and physical properties, but particularly in tinting strength and colour consistency. Their chemical composition ensures that the products are completely weather-stable and lightfast. Now well-known and valued all over the world, they first appeared in Germany, where they have been manufactured since 1926. Today high-quality inorganic colour pigments from LANXESS are used by customers worldwide in a range of applications, on roofs, walls and roads, in artificial grass at sporting venues, or in laminate floors and plastic and cosmetic products.
Tell us something about your Indian business and the range of products and services you offer?
India is certainly one of the fastest growing markets for us and it´s one of our most important markets with a special focus. We have a couple of decades of experience and expertise in this market. Globally, if we look at the iron oxide pigment business worldwide, LANXESS is the largest supplier. In India too, our full range of products marketed under the trade names Bayferrox®, Bayoxide® and Colortherm® are the best known brands in the Indian market. We have the world´s largest plant in Germany with a capacity of 280,000 tonnes per annum, and we have a global production capacity of 375.000 tonnes. As an extension of our proven Bayferrox® portfolio, the New Red pigments produced from our newly built plant in Ningbo, China, present a new generation of iron oxide pigments. The new pigments are based on a completely new production method - the so-called ´Ningbo Process´ that offers special advantages in terms of sustainability and pigment quality.
Inform us on how you market and provide service to your consumers. Brief us on your top-selling products in construction and water treatment...
The construction industry is one of the largest consumers of Bayferrox® and Colortherm® pigments. Additionally, the product line Bayoxide® is the ideal product for advanced technologies like water purification, catalysts and biogas treatment. To increase the market for construction applications, we are in discussion with various real estate companies, explaining to them the benefits of coloured concrete and coloured asphalt applications. We have also taken initiatives to spread awareness among architects and designers with regard to coloured concrete applications through relevant magazines and e-newsletters, by sharing case studies and best practices from other parts of the world, which demonstrate these applications.
LANXESS offers the full spread of technical service for any kind of construction application by our Global and Regional Competence Centers.
At what stage of construction are the colouring agents used? How are these added to concrete to get the best results?
To obtain the best possible results, the pigments are added in dry stage to the sand and aggregates of the classical concrete formulation. After a short pre-mix time, the cement and the water are finally added to the formulation. For the reason that the formulation can vary, LANXESS and the Global Competence Centers are offering all kind of technical expertise to achieve the best possible result.
How do you maintain consistency of your product, considering that for decorative applications, uniformity of colour is extremely important?
There is a clear emphasis on the colour accents that the pigments can provide - from yellow to orange; red to green; and brown to black. All the pigments from LANXESS are suitable for the colouration of a wide variety of products and are under permanent and strict quality control of our ISO-certified laboratories before they are shipped to our customers.
Considering that sustainability is important for a company like yours, and your score on the Dow Jones sustainability index is pretty impressive, give us some insight into your sustainability initiatives...
Production processes have always been designed to conserve resources and preserve the environment - and to be safe and sustainable. They are also subject to constant improvement.
LANXESS Inorganic Pigments Group represents a consistent combination of environmental responsibility, efficiency and quality. In line with these objectives, and based on our 90 years of experience, we have once again set a milestone in the production of synthetic iron oxide pigments at our new production facility in Ningbo, China. It is the world´s most modern plant of its kind and another key element in our global production network. Here, the newly developed Ningbo Process is being used for the first time. This innovative technology allows unique and high-quality red iron oxide pigments - the so-called New Reds - to be manufactured in an environmentally friendly way. It enables us to offer our worldwide customers an impressive measure of security for the future and to lay the foundation for sustainable success.
Considering the developed world, we as Indians pay much less attention to subjects like decorating concrete with colours. How do you see the business in the next ten years?
In the last few years, we have a built a strong team here in India with the growing interest in not only our products, but also our service. There is a growing trend in paint manufacturers in India to produce not just paints, but paints which are environmentally friendly with ingredients which are environmentally produced. This is in line with our sustainability principles described above. We have a sophisticated logistics network which guaranteed deliveries anywhere in the world, with which we serve the Indian market better.
What sort of chemicals are used for water treatment and what are your key products in water treatment?
The Bayoxide® product line stands for a range of technical applications of iron oxides and chrome oxides. Bayoxide® E 33 granules for example serve as an effective filter for removing arsenic from water. It is more imperative than ever to have a treatment process capable of effectively removing arsenic from drinking water. LANXESS has developed an iron oxide with the brand name Bayoxide® E 33 specifically for the removal of arsenic from drinking water and non-drinking water sources. When water from a source is pumped through a vessel or a series of vessels containing Bayoxide® E 33, it passes through a fixed bed of the media where arsenic is adsorbed quickly and selectively.